Studying in Italy changed my life. While I was there I fell in love with the food and met my husband Gregorio. I studied under award winning chefs and cooked many delicious plates. However, the food I loved the most was not the delicate plates, it was the rustic Italian meals prepared by the grandmothers, mothers, and daughters of my friends and family. After my Culinary Master’s program ended, I decided to stay and learn from those same women who introduced me to Southern Italy’s authentic rustic cuisine. Luckily for me, they also introduced me to my husband Gregorio. Parmigiana was the first recipe we ever made together. His mother taught it to his sister, his sister taught it to us, and now we are sharing it with you.
RECIPE SERVES 12
Ingredients for Red Sauce
- 12 cups homemade conserved Italian Roma tomatoes OR 1 Stanislaus Tomato Magic #10 can(the closest thing to what our family jars in Italy)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 large bundle of basil (about 30 leaves)
- 2 cups all purpose flower
- 5 medium to large Italian eggplant
- 1 ½ lbs provolone cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 cups water (use up to 3 cups water to thin out the sauce after cooking if needed)
- 1 Tablespoon salt for the sauce
- 2 teaspoons salt for the eggplant
- 2 quarts vegetable oil
Directions for Red Sauce
- Peel garlic cloves and crack each one open by smashing them with the bottom of a pan.
- Sautee the smashed garlic cloves in extra virgin olive oil for a few minutes on medium heat until they are slightly brown.
- Remove the garlic cloves from the oil then add in the tomatoes, about10 basil leaves, and 1 Tablespoon of salt and sauté for 20 minutes on medium heat.
Directions for Fried Eggplant
- Peel the eggplant and cut into round slices 3/4th inch thick.
- Salt the top and bottom of the eggplant slices and then let sit for 2 hours to remove water and bitterness from the slices.
- Dust the eggplant slices in the flour.
- Fry eggplant in a pan with 1-inch deep vegetable oil (Be careful while frying!).
- Place the eggplant on a sheet tray lined with paper towel to absorb the extra oil.
Directions to assemble and bake Parmigiana
- Spread the cooked red sauce a centimeter thick on the bottom of a rectangular pan.
- Next, spread a layer of fried eggplant covering the bottom of the pan so you can no longer see the red sauce.
- Layer half of the sliced provolone cheese over the eggplant.
- Evenly distribute 10 basil leaves over the cheese.
- Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
- Repeat steps 1 through 4 and then finish with all the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
- Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 20/25 minutes until golden brown.
- Let the parmigiana rest for 10 minutes before serving. You can easily cook this a day in advance, and then reheat before you serve. It really only gets better!